Calgary

There was such a thing as a free lunch as Feeding the 5,000 food waste campaign kicks off

Food that would otherwise have been thrown out was used to serve hundreds at Calgary's Olympic Plaza in the first Feeding the 5,000 event, aimed at raising awareness around waste.

Feeding the 5,000 initiative aims to increase awareness around food waste

The Recycling Council of Alberta wants to reduce the amount of edible food that ends up in landfills. 0:29

There was such a thing as a free lunch at Olympic Plaza in Calgary on Thursday.

Food that would otherwise have been thrown out was used to serve hundreds in the first Feeding the 5,000 event, aimed at raising awareness around waste. 

The Recycling Council of Alberta says about one-third of food produced around the world ends up being tossed out rather than eaten.

"That's exactly what we're trying to combat here," said executive director Christina Seidel, adding supermarkets often throw away perfectly good food because consumers don't want to buy fruits and veggies that aren't perfect looking.

"We don't want that to happen so this is a way of raising awareness on how good food that could end up being wasted, actually makes for a great meal," she said.

Recycling Council of Alberta executive director Christina Seidel says up to one-third of food produced around the world is thrown out rather than eaten. (Rebecca Kelly/CBC)

"This is an opportunity for people to understand their own actions makes a big difference in terms of reducing food waste. So things like, when you go to the grocery store, to not be so fussy about what your fruit looks like, that it's OK to buy a slightly misshapen apple. It's important for us to recognize food tastes good not because of what it looks like but because of what it is."

Feeding the 5,000 began in the United Kingdom and has since spread to several countries around the world. 

All the food served at the Calgary event would have otherwise ended up in the landfill.

France passes food-waste law

"We've accessed companies that had excess food and made these meals, so people get an experience of how good that food actually is," said Seidel.

"There are restaurants, grocery stores and wholesalers and suppliers. And you'll see there isn't a lot of emphasis on the names of the companies, most of them didn't want to be individually recognized, they see it this as an important event."

This plate of food served at the Feeding 5,000 event in Calgary was made from food that otherwise would have been thrown out. (Rebecca Kelly/CBC)

France passed a law in 2016 requiring supermarkets to donate unsold food to charities or make it available for animal feed. 

Seidel said consumers also don't have to look at best before dates as a hard deadline for when food should be thrown out.

"Your best indication of the quality of the food is looking at it and experiencing it," she said. "If it looks good and smells good, it's probably good."

With files from Rebecca Kelly